Ok, well maybe not. BUT enough that I can reel you in and talk about our progress. For those that don’t know, Winston is a cocky, high prey drive, nose down, over excited Spaniel. I’ve lost him twice in a forest (years ago) and my heart sank. From then on, he’s just lost my confidence and trust. Because of where we live, our fields and walk are full of pheasants and livestock, perfect for a prey drive chase – if I let him.
After our Wedding, he went back to Pawsitive Pursuit whilst we enjoyed our wedding bubble and as expected, they worked wonders on him. When I went to pick up Winston, I made myself go for a walk with them and let him off lead. He may have fallen in the pond chasing after a moorhen, but otherwise his engagement and recall was there.
I wanted to keep pushing my confidence and when we returned home, I made a point to allow Winston off lead every day to continue to increase my confidence. Increase the trust that if he went more than 5 metres away from me, that he would come back. I did still have to manage this – I started walking on lead initially, calm him down, kept his focus, ensured he was able to be off lead and not over his threshold, able to listen etc. And the first few times I let him off lead where in big open field, minimal triggers and prey.
There has definitely been times where his recall hasn’t been on point as I would have liked it to be, for example, he’s started to run back and then immediately got distracted by a smell. He also chased a cat down our street the other day and was incredibly happy (and shattered) when he returned. There is also no chance I can let him off lead on our normal walks up the hills covered in sheep and pheasants, so the long line will stay there for now.
For now, I’m extremely happy with our recall progress and hopefully over the summer, we can grow our confidence and Winston can continue to be happy with his off lead life! Those of you struggling, I hope this gives you some hope that with the right training and consistency, you can progress too!